We try to spend our summers visiting my father-in-law up in the mountains of Galicia, Spain. A couple of years ago, I went out for a run with my ultra-marathoning brother-in-law. The idea was for me to run out with him up to the tops of the mountains, then turn around and run back alone. He would keep cruising up and down mountains for a few more hours.
My brother-in-law is a gentleman, so he would run ahead and then stop every so often to contemplate a vista, or kick something out of the path. This was for my benefit: it let me run without being embarrassed about sounding like Darth Vader, and the short rests were quick chances for my heart to get back inside my rib cage. I knew this and appreciated the chivalry.
Until one stop brought him in front of some scat.
“Do you think this could be from a dog?” He asked his blue eyes intense like the inner part of a flame.
“Wheeze…Um…em…” I intellectualized, and nodded. My hands gone down to the top of my thighs as if I were scrutinizing the scat, but I was actually trying to get my organs back in to place.
“No! No! Not at all! You see, we are too high up for dogs. No. This is wolf scat. See? There is some fur in it.”
My brother-in-law is a man of few words and he had used up many on that explanation. He smiled and started to run off.
“Wait! Hey!” I managed.
Those pale blue eyes, deeply curious, looked back at me.
“Hey, what do I do if a wolf comes after me?”
“Oh, they’ll leave you alone, don’t worry.”
“No, they will leave YOU alone! You’re thin and fast. I am slow and fat. If I were a wolf, I would hunt me, not you. Seriously, what do I do?”
He scanned the ground and found a rock that would fit in my hand. He swept down, picked it up, handed it to me, and raised his eyebrows.
“Here, take this and throw it at the wolf’s head. Don’t worry if you miss: it will startle it away….” I don’t know if he winked, because my brother-in-law isn’t really the winking type, but he sure was pleased with himself. As I watched him run off, I admired him for being so damn capable, but I also entertained a few private and unkind thoughts.
Armed with a stone and a racing heart, I continued up the mountain path. Nature was safe from me.